Tendering for Government Contracts

We look at where small businesses can find opportunities in the public sector and how to go after them...

Tendering for Government Contracts

Public-sector policy requirements

There are a range of policies which are becoming increasingly important when tendering for public-sector contracts. Although the importance attached to the policies by buying organisations may vary, buyers may choose to assess their potential contractors against these policies. As a result, it would be wise to have knowledge of the relevant policies and to have documented procedures in place, where necessary.

Sustainability and environmental policies

Issues of sustainability and the environment in procurement are seen as increasingly important.

Organisations can ask you to supply details of your sustainability policy. Sustainable procurement has four objectives.

  • Effective protection of the environment.
  • Cautious protection of natural resources.
  • Social progress which recognises theneeds of everyone.
  • Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

Businesses have a legal and moral duty to make sure that their processes do not pollute the environment. A good environmental management system (EMS) helps a business manage any operations that could affect the environment. Its purpose is to:

  • review the effect of the businesses’ operations on the environment;
  • assess the significance of the effect on the environment; and
  • compile a register of the effects of your business.

The benefits of a good EMS include:

  • helping you to reduce the effect of your business on the environment;
  • cost savings;
  • improving public image;and
  • helping you meet environmental law.

ISO14001 and EMAS

EMS standards, such as ISO14001 or EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), are a way to demonstrate a business’s commitment to reducing their environmental effect. Taking part in either standard is voluntary. For more information on Environmental Management Systems, consult the NetRegs Management Guidelines.

Racial equality

Public authorities have a legal obligation to take racial equality into account when carrying out procurement. As a result, you should make sure that you are acting within the law, and that your policies and practices are not discriminatory. You can get more information from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in their document Race Equality and Public Procurement (PDF).


Many local authorities have a vision to value diversity in their communities, promote an inclusive society and oppose all forms of intolerance and prejudicial discrimination (whether it is intentional, institutional or unintentional). You should contact the relevant authority and ask if there are any particular diversity issues you need to include in your bid in order to be successful.

Health and safety

If you employ five or more people, you must have a documented safety policy. Your safety policy should:

  • set out your business’s commitment to manage risks and meet legal duties for safety;
  • tell people in your business what their duties are for health and safety; and
  • explain the steps that staff need to take to meet their duties.

You may be asked to provide copies of this document with your tender application.

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